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Archive for February, 2016

Progress on February goals, Valentine's Day spending, etc.

February 14th, 2016 at 10:19 pm

I've decided not to continue the "gratitude photos." NT seems to have trailed off on them as did everyone on here, and I kind of understand! Like Family December, it was a good exercise for a month or so to make me more aware, but it started to feel like a chore to actually take one photo per day.

Besides, I have an ambitious February already, with both creative and organizational goals. Here's how I'm doing on them:
- Watch all the Rocky movies + Fruitvale Station: I've watched the first three Rocky movies and have dates selected to watch the rest, so I'm on track. I'm loving them! Not only very inspiring and watchable, but lots of interesting stuff about race to unpack and think about.

- Do at least 5 boxing workouts. I've done 3 so far, and there are 2 Saturdays left in the month, which are good days for working out, so I'm on track.

- Read 2 books: Moonwalking with Einstein and Eat That Frog! I'm a little over halfway through the first book, so I'm a bit behind, but making progress. The first book is 270 pages while the second book only about 120, so I think I can make it if I buckle down now and then and really get some big chunks read.

- Get all our tax stuff organized for the tax guy: I finally yesterday sat down with the questionnaire and started filling it out, and seeing what documents we had/needed. Made some good progress on my and NT's, but I have more to do, and then I need to do AS's as well. I think I'll finish by the end of the month.

- Get rid of broken-down dresser. No progress other than discussing it a bit with AS. For a dresser that seems to be falling apart, it seems surprisingly sturdy when I contemplate dismantling it and throwing it out. It's going to take some elbow grease, so I just need to get going on it at some point. Probably not today; I'm feeling pretty lazy as I do most Sundays. At least I have tomorrow off; maybe I'll get some stuff done then!

For Valentine's Day, the grownups didn't go crazy on each other; we're just going out to dinner together tonight. I figured about $100, but it may go over that with drinks. No paying a babysitter; we're putting the kids to bed and then the downstairs neighbor will keep an ear out for them.

I did buy Valentine cards and candy for the kids' school and daycare friends and teachers, and I got both kids a stuffed animal, musical card and candy treat each. I can't resist; I remember fondly my parents always got me all three for Valentine's Day. AA was very sweet; she'd gotten some blank cards from school that she filled out for us, and very thoughtfully selected a small toy for each of us (out of her own toys). So that all cost us nothing! I think I spent about $45 on cards, candy and gifts.

I can't remember if I ever wrote about what came of the air-conditioning offer. I'd called to ask about getting the units installed piecemeal, and the lady had said she'd try to get us a 15% discount, which would save $2K off their price. Well, she called back and said she'd gotten a 9% discount for us. It had already been a stretch to contemplate coming up with the $12K; adding $800 to it (especially after having a better offer dangled then taken away) kind of tipped the scales for us. I told her I couldn't commit either way to having that amount in time for summer. We'll probably shop around and see if there are any better offers out there, and if not, I may call back and ask again about the piecemeal option. Or, who knows? If we get enough unexpected money by May, maybe we'll go for it at the lesser discount.

We're working on three CC bonus offers at the moment (AS just got a fourth card in the mail, but we'll work on these first). NT's $3600 surgery bill plus a few regular purchases puts us close to meeting the Chase Sapphire reward. We're hoping to use it to offset the cost of tickets to NY for my 20-year college reunion.

We're starting to plan for "birthday month" (our bdays are on March 2, 4, 5, 21 & 29)! We're hoping to stay at $500 for all bday parties, and the gift budget is $800 ($200 for each adult and $100 for each kid). I'm trying to find a rec center for AA's birthday, since she wants to invite all of her kindgergarten class, all the daycare friends and a few other friends. I want to do a morning party since most kids are at their best in the morning. None of the parks nearest us have an opening for renting the rec center, so I'm going to broaden my search and we can just get a carshare instead of walking/bussing, which is fine. I think I can get it under $100, and we'll try to keep the parting gifts cheap. Food can probably mostly work into our regular grocery budget if we cheap out on the weeknight meals.

I believe all three grownups are thinking about a quiet night home with food delivery and maybe a couple friends coming over. I know that's what I want! I just haven't decided what food and which friends. Smile

We have a bit of time for SL's bday planning, but I'm already thinking we'll have it at home and I'll probably plan a series of games like I did last time, to keep the kids from tearing through the house like a hurricane. Since we won't spend money on a venue, we can probably order pizza again.

I already ordered some gifts online today, and I'll probably do more today and tomorrow. I like getting it out of the way and not spending a ton of time on it! AA is into really girly stuff now, so it's mostly Barbies and accessories for her; SL is harder to peg, but she's not at all girly. I'm thinking basketball set; and she needs a new cute backpack. We'll figure it out.

Gratitude photos #32-37

February 7th, 2016 at 05:09 am

I just realized that figuring out what photo I'm on just got a lot harder, since after Jan. 31 they no longer correspond with the date!

What I find hard about this project is I hate missing actually taking a photo every day. But, what I love about it is that when I do forget, I make myself go back over the day (if I can't remember what happened I check Facebook, my personal email, even my work email) and find something to take or find a photo of. So it's making me be really conscious about what I'm actually grateful for each day. Some days it's a stretch; other days I have to pick one out of many things. Either way I think it's a great exercise. So without further ado ...

Day 32 (Mon. Feb. 1): Family.

I took this photo a couple days later when I realized I'd missed this day. I remembered showing off this set of photos to a co-worker on Monday. These are from the photo shoot my downstairs neighbor did for us in December. He always manages to catch such great shots. And, if this is the first time I've posted a photo of myself, I'm the one in the magenta shirt. Smile



Day 33 (Tues. Feb. 2): Public transportation.

I'm so glad my city has a great bus and train system. It's not without its flaws; for instance our lower income neighborhoods, who need it the most, are underserved. (They have it, it's just not as many buses, and the shelters aren't heated, etc.) But overall it's a great system.



Day 34 (Wed. Feb. 3): The best new website in the world!

One thing you may not know about me is that me and my partners are huge Simpsons fans. I mean, most people like the Simpsons, but we're rabid. Have all the box sets. Can have entire conversations consisting only of Simpsons quotes. Love love love the Simpsons.

And on Wednesday, a friend told us about a website, frinkiac.com, that helps you create memes by searching for quotes from any episode, and it brings up likely matches of screen shots as well!



I wasted quite a few bits of down time at work making some of my favorite (if obscure) quotes into memes. And several of our friends joined in on Facebook. It was an afternoon of hilarity. I love when the internet produces something genius that seems custom made for you!

Day 35 (Thurs. Feb. 4): My new boss.

I couldn't really post a picture of him or anything, so I used frinkiac.com to make a meme of my favorite "great" boss from The Simpsons, Hank Scorpio (of course, he turns out to be a supervillain, but that's beside the point ...)



I've had a new boss for about a week, and I love it! It's night and day with my old boss, who meant well but always made me feel awkward and weird and insecure. This new guy is really upbeat, really nice and encouraging, and really happy to defer to me on things (he just started so I know way more about our clients than him). He actually did say something like "I don't think of myself as your boss." Such a Hank Scorpio thing to say! So yeah, needless to say, I have high hopes that my job I'm already really happy with is going to get even better.

Day 36 (Fri., Feb. 5): Cofftea (our made-up term for it)

I have mixed emotions about loving this stuff, which we found at the pan-Asian supermarket. It's instant coffee, tea and non-dairy creamer all in one. It cannot be good for me, but damn is it good! I don't have it often because we don't get to that store very frequently. Friday I worked from home to nip a cold in the bud (it worked!), and treated myself to the last packet of coffee-tea in the house. Such a delicious, comfort-foody treat!



Day 37 (today, Sat., Feb. 6): My partners celebrating frugality

Today AS came back from grocery shopping to let me know she'd spent less than $4 at CVS for a box of cereal, 4 cans of clams and 2 boxes of crackers! She'd used a combination of sales and coupons and was really proud of herself. To top it off, I realized the cereal was good for a 50-cent credit on Ibotta!

NT came back from his half of the grocery shopping to let me know that the main-floor shower, which he thought it would cost about $50 to fix with new fixtures, actually only cost 49 cents! As you can see in the photo, a nice guy at the local hardware found just the right washer, and it fixed the leaky faucet so we now have a functional shower on the main floor. He was so proud of it, he made this HIS gratitude pic for the day, so naturally I just took a pic of his pic. Big Grin

February debt payments

February 3rd, 2016 at 04:38 am

All our mortgage payments hit:
US: $665 to principal
UK #1: $222
UK #2: $48
UK #3: $50

That means we paid $985 of principal this month.

Our total debt now (including a $5K loan from the downstairs neighbors that may someday be reclassified as their down payment on their share) is $480,802.